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Our literature classes range from novels to poetry to plays and we welcome participation from anyone who would like to learn more. You will have the chance to explore ideas with a wide range of other students and visits to the theatre or libraries are often a part of the course.

1816: The Year without a Summer View details

As the Napoleonic wars came to an end, a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Indonesia threw huge clouds of dust and ash into the atmosphere, affecting global weather patterns such that the summer of 1816 was one of the wettest and coldest ever recorded. Famine and suffering were rife around the world. Yet these grim conditions inspired some of the greatest literature and art of the Romantic period, including Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', the publication of 'Kubla Khan', and some of the finest paintings Turner and Constable ever produced.

A Century of Food and Fiction View details

What have we loved to eat, and relished reading, since 1900? We look at Edwardian excess, wartime rations, the Jazz Age, fashions in dieting, the growth of ethnic eating, the celebrity chef, food in science fiction and more! Recipe books, newspaper and magazine articles, diaries, memoirs, poetry and novels all provide fascinating evidence of the food we have loved, and loathed, over more than a century of social change.

A Literary Score - Part 1 View details

Do you want to predict the future? By reading and discussing some of the best fiction written in England over the last twenty years, we aim to discover the Classics of the Future. Titles will include Minaret by L Aboulela, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson and Elmet by Fiona Mozeley.

A Man of Character - Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge View details

'The Mayor of Casterbridge' presents the reader with a gripping tale, and also with many of the themes - love, loss, regret - that characterise his poetry in later years. This course is a chance to explore both in depth, against the background of an extraordinary life lived at a time of rapid change.

A Selection of Great American Poets View details

Join us in discovering some of the greatest of American poetry. We will study Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop and more.

A Tale of Four Cities - Part 1 View details

So much literature emanates from and concerns our capital city, London. However, a great deal of writing of real quality has been produced in, or by writers who came from , other cities in the United Kingdom. On this course we will explore writings from four other major cities, namely Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast. There will be a consideration of a variety of novels, short stories and poetry, looking at what makes these works , and their authors distinctive and relevant to the cities in which they were written , or in which the writers lived. For example, concerning Edinburgh, we will explore the poetry of Norman MacCaig, short stories by Elspeth Davie, and a novel by Muriel Spark.

A View from the Distaff Side (and a little bit more) View details

Stories are often told through the lens of the male eye. We shall see how - told through the woman's eye - the story can be very different. We'll also look at men writing about women, and judge how much or little they know!

Alan Bennett’s 'The Habit of Art' and Lee Hall’s 'The Pitmen Painters' View details

Lee Hall in plays such as 'Billy Elliot' and here in 'The Pitmen Painters' explores characters and issues from particular working environments. 'The Pitmen Painters' has a particular link to Adult Education classes and the WEA especially, because the group of titular artists formed from a WEA class of the Ashington branch in the 1920s. 'A Habit of Art' by hugely popular writer Alan Bennett movingly and intellectually explores ideas about creating art through a focus on W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten. We will study these two plays and draws links and contrasts between them. Through readings and discussions we shall consider how both work theatrically on stage. There will be class discussions, reading aloud and workshopping of key scenes. All welcome with an enthusiasm for theatre.

And Before Shakespeare......The Mystery Plays View details

It sometimes seems as if the explosion of drama onto the Elizabethan stage sprang fully formed from nowhere. But, of course, as Shakespeare himself observed, nothing will come of nothing. There is imput from classical and contemporary European drama, but England too had a rich and developing history of drama, before theatre. Starting from a religious base, simple bible tales were transformed into realistic, and often comic, drama. Gradually invented stories commenting satirically on the original appear, then allegorical plays and and by the sixteenth century plays produced simply for entertainment. The day will be based on a play from one of the cycles of mystery plays and the more ambitious Second Shepherds’ Pageant from the Wakefield plays. The day will begin with a 2 hour session, followed by a lunch break and two one and a half our sessions with a tea break.

Aspects of Englishness in Writing up to 1960 View details

The course will cover a selection of writings, in prose and poetry, which engages and considers the concept of Englishness in the period from the end of the 19th century to about 1960. The course will include the following: A.E. Housman: poems Hugh Walpole: Mr Perrin and Mr Traill R. C. Sherriff: The Fortnight in September John Betjeman: poems Virginia Woolf:Between the Acts